Badrinath the holiest and the most pious of the four sites of India’s Char Dham( holy centres) pilgrimage, Badrinath is a holy town in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand. Badrinath is surrounded by the Nara and Narayan mountain ranges with the Neelkanth peak providing a stunning backdrop. The town is situated on the banks of a feisty Alakananda river. Badrinath, also known as tapobhumi (the land of penace) and Bhu-baikunth (heaven on earth) has immense mythical significance. The town derives its name from the Badrinath shrine which is the abode of Badrinarayan, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. As per legend, Adi Shankaracharya discovered the black stone image(of saligram stone) of Lord Badrinarayan from the Alakananda river. Also famous are the temples- Adi Badri, Bhavishtya Badri, Yog Dhyan Badri,Vriddha Badri.
Near the temple is Tapt Kund, which has thermal springs with curative properties. Other famous thermal spring sites are Narad kund and Surya Kund.
In and Around Badrinath:
4kms from Badrinath lies Mana, the last populated village on the Indo-Tibetan border. Mana offers scintillating views of towering snow covered peaks to the nature lover and is also a pilgrim’s delight. For here one finds the Vyas Gufa( legend has it that sage Vyas composed the Mahabharata epic in this cave), Ganesh Gufa( Lord Ganesh wrote down the Mahabharata in this cave on the narration of Vyas) , Bhim Pul( Bhima’s stone bridge) and the origin of the Saraswati river which is seen in all its gusty spirit here.
The Satopanth lake and valley is situated about 18kms from Mana village. Surrounded by lotus flowers the triangular Satopanth lake is at a height of 4402 metres above sea level and is one of the sources of river Alakananda.
Hemkund Sahib is an important sikh pilgrimage centre and is on the way to Badrinath.
Other Hindu pilgrimage centres in and around Badrinath are Joshimath, Kedarnath, Karnaprayag and Rudrapayag.
What To Do:
Take a holy dip in the Taptkund in the morning before heading towards the Badrinath temple to offer prayers. Head off towards the Mana village to drink in the beauty of nature. While at Mana, you can buy the woolen shawls woven by the villagers. Adventure lovers can opt for a Badrinath-Satopanth-Badrinath trek to make their trip unforgettable.
The ideal time to visit Badrinath is from May to the first week of Novemberwhen the climate is salubrious.